Suburban Hospital receives $2.5 million gift from Bender Foundation -- Gazette.Net


Suburban Hospital received a $2.5 million donation from the Bender Foundation in August, which will help fund the hospital’s campus enhancement project, expected to begin in 2014.

The donation is the largest gift that Suburban Hospital received this year, allowing the hospital to exceed its $6 million annual fundraising goal.

The Montgomery County Planning Board unanimously approved plans in April that include more private patient rooms, larger operating rooms, additional parking, improved traffic and pedestrian circulation and more physician office space in the Bethesda hospital.

The project also plans to redesign the emergency room and private operating rooms to be better connected, according to Jacky Schultz, the executive vice president and chief operating officer at Suburban Hospital.

The 238-bed hospital is Montgomery County’s only designated trauma center and is also a primary stroke center.

“[The campus enhancement] will help maintain what we think is state-of-the-art health care,” said David Silver, who serves on the Bender Foundation and as the chairman of the Suburban Hospital board. “Suburban has been interested in a gift from the Bender Foundation for a couple of years now. We really thought it was the time.”

The enhancement project has progressed through approvals far enough that the Bender council was confident to make a commitment, Silver said.

Promoting and supporting heath and health care is one of the main missions of the Bender Foundation, according to Julie Bender Silver, president of the Bender Foundation and daughter of Sondra and Howard Bender. The Bender family has relied on Suburban Hospital’s facilities when they were sick, including when Howard Bender needed open heart surgery, Bender Silver said.

The Bender Foundation Inc., based in Washington, D.C., and started by Julie’s grandfather, Jack Bender, contributes to over 70 nonprofit organizations annually.

The renovated emergency/trauma center will also be dedicated as the Sondra & Howard Bender Emergency/Trauma Center, according to an Aug. 12 press release from the hospital. Sondra Bender died last year on Feb. 22. She was 78.

A portion of the $2.5 million gift will be used to establish the Sondra D. Bender Fund for Nursing Excellence. The current nursing fund was running low, according to Schultz.

The fund helps promote nursing excellence by sending nurses to seminars and sometimes helping to fund their bachelor’s degrees.

“We count on donor money to be able to do that,” Schultz said.

The Bender Foundation gift is considered a leadership gift, which is designated for larger donation amounts, according to Silver. It is a loose term used in philanthropy to encourage others to give.

The hospital has also received gifts from more than 2,000 individual donors and organizations this year .

“Philanthropy is so important to us nonprofits,” Schultz said. “In anticipating a new building it becomes even more important. We were really grateful.”

Renderings of the enhancement project are available at